This branch of cardiology focuses on the treatment of the many different heart conditions through a process called catheterization. Catheterization involves the cardiologist inserting a small tube into a large blood vessel, usually the patient’s femoral artery in the thigh. After inserting the catheter, a smaller instrument will be run through the patient’s body using X-ray imaging. This process is less invasive than most procedures and only requires a small needle stick for local anesthesia and a small incision. This process will evaluate any blockages in in the patient’s arterial system. The arterial system is the blood vessels that move blood away from the heart. Lastly, the recovery time for this procedure is much quicker than procedures that require more intervention.
There are some situations where treatment is needed during the procedure. A way of treating a blockage is through a stent. A stent is a small, expandable tube used for treating narrowed arteries. Arteries can become narrowed from plaque buildup and when they are opened with stents it can relieve a wide variety of symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath as well as improve the blood flow to the heart.
Who is at risk for needing a cardiac catheterization:
- History of high blood pressure
- Shortness of breath
- History of high cholesterol
- Family history of heart disease